Dear Diary….guess who kicked a demi-god’s butt?

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

While we had some down-time, we took a closer look at the items we’d picked up. Tressarian could tell us what was magical, but nothing more specific than that…so Mikael cast Detect Magic and took a look at the necklace, cloak, and box full of gems.

He and Ezekiel decided the globe on the necklace (that looks like a moon) has something to do with freezing (Ez thinks it’s an ice spell in physical form, or something like that); Raven pointed out it’s about the size of a sling bullet, so maybe it’s meant to be thrown to cast the spell.

As for the box, Mikael says there are invisible runes of some kind on the front of it…but he can’t read them for obvious reasons. We can’t even get rid of the invisibility with Dispel Magic for fear that would erase the runes, too. So we have to sit on that for a bit.

The cloak that the medusa statue wore seems to have something to do with poison…protecting from it, causing it, etc., we’re not sure.

Ezekiel couldn’t make much out of the ring (it has an eye image on it) so Raven said he would try it out. He gave Ez his ring of shooting stars in the meantime, and went out to the hall. When he put it on, he says he could see through the walls and into the cupboards all around him! He’s been wearing it ever since, and won’t let anyone else try it…Tres and I are keeping an eye on him.

He also borrowed some holy water from Ezekiel to fill his “dagger of venom.” We’ll see if that accomplishes anything.

****

14th Flocktime

Another day of grabbing anything that’s not nailed down, looks like.

We started the day by heading back to the mushroom room, then down the hall at the far end of the room that (according to the map) should lead us to stairs down.

On the way, we came across the lameuh’s body. Looks like Mikael’s insects stuck to their job, and finished her off! She wasn’t wearing much of anything! except a gold necklace with five rubies…and, on her legs, Tressarian noticed she had a pair of magic bracers hiding under her fur.

Raven checked them out, and explained they would be best suited for someone without any other armor – apparently they help you move your arms and block attacks…like he’s always telling us is the reason monks are the superior class. But he’s not allowed to carry any more magic items (his code or something) so Lydia got them – and besides, I think she could use them more. She looks kinda cool in them.

When we reached the stair, it was plain it was often used…there were footprints everywhere, and even rubbish and scraps of food lying about (bugbears and such are so messy).

Raven (still wearing his new ring) found a parchment thrown in the corner, but I don’t know that it’ll be important…it’s got a weird drawing of a skull with a crown and four needles coming off its head.

[sketch]

We did meet a couple trolls at the foot of the stairs, but after Raven roped them, they went down like punks. We took two small keys they were carrying, and then Heiron burned the bodies.

The decor on the walls of the first room were mosaics…demons and goopy creatures frolicking among the torn bodies of their tortured victims. I’m getting sick of this art.

More stairs went down…then came a landing, with two big rooms opening off it. We turned east first.

This room reeked of troll. Their filthy bedding piles filled one corner, along with four small chests. Two of those we could unlock with the keys we just got – the rest Raven unlocked.

(He’d been having trouble with his ring. He said the walls were too thick here to see through, but when he looked into the chests, he saw all kinds of cheese…and then, when we opened them, there was no cheese to be found. Sounds like it’s messing with him.)

Among some money and black gems, the most interesting thing in the chests was a small black carving of a fly – about life-size, for one of the larger breeds of fly. Someone (probably Lydia) remembered that when the merchant-double-agents fled, they left behind a statue of a scarab. Since Ezekiel was carrying that around, we let him have the fly, too…although I’m nervous what they might add up to. The fly at least is magic, after all.

A huge tapestry covered the wall opposite the door – a huge, fat face shooting rays from its eyes at a group of humans and winged human-like beings. Ezekiel checked behind it, and found a door – which led us to a fancy bedroom. Definitely not for bugbears. The coals in the fireplace were still hot, but no one was home. The mantle was covered with nick-nacks like shrunken heads.

Two tapestries flanked the fireplace, and behind one of them, Ezekiel found a walk-in closet full of cleric robes, jewelry, slippers, and a full-length mirror (just an ordinary mirror – we didn’t take it).

Behind the other tapestry, he found a solid stone wall – and scraped his nose a little trying to walk into it.

A passage down from the common room led us to a kitchen, where we spotted a Black Pudding helping itself to a pot of leftovers. We’ve learned not to let those things get too close, and Lydia set it on fire – several times – until it finally fizzled and dropped in a sticky mass to the floor.

Side-rooms ringed the dining area, filled with bugbear bedding…but again, nobody was home. We didn’t find anything interesting in any of them, except in one place – that smelled like ogre. That guy had a little black scarab statue, just like the one Ezekiel has…only the letters scratched underneath it are slighting different. I hope this isn’t some word-scrambler puzzle, because I’m not good at those.

Tressarian did find a secret door in the ogre’s bedroom. Behind it, a hallway led to the back of the cleric’s mirror (it opens with a lever) and on the other end was a door that Lydia told us was wizard-locked…meaning Raven and Wonillon couldn’t just open it. (Raven told us there was lots of cheese on the other side, but we’ll have to wait until Lydia has a Knock spell or something to see if he’s right.)

**

West room much like east. When you step through the door from the landing, a huge painting confronts you – a tall, horned humanoid in wizard robes shooting blue bolts at his enemies (obviously good guys because of their colors). (I don’t like this violent fixation of the cultists…)

The corner had more bedding and more chests, just like the other side…these ones didn’t have any carved insects, but they did have a handful of violet garnets.

Following the passage that mirrored the one to the kitchen, we found a dining room…ten chairs, bigger than man-sized, around a huge table. A bed stood along one wall – bigger than an ogre.

Once again, nobody was home. Ezekiel started asking himself where everybody was.

A couple side-rooms held boxes of ogre clothing. Ezekiel had me bring Tressarian around, detecting for things, but I don’t think we’ll find much interesting here.

**

… Hmmmm. I have to stop writing dumb things. One day, I’m going to die for real, and I don’t want to be embarrassed.

Sorting through what happened next — there remained a door to the north, and a hall to the west.

Behind the door is some kind of council room – two fireplaces, plush chairs (various sizes) around a table, and maps…so many maps.

Ezekiel almost started giggling, and ran around the room, examining them all. A few were of the surrounding countryside, and nearby towns, but the rest were of the Temple levels. Ez grabbed down the map of where we were, and compared it to the one we’d been drawing. The “official” map didn’t have all the secret doors and passages, but it told us what’s at the bottom of the main stairs out there.

A big, huge room, with a dais, and eight branching rooms spidering around it. Two rooms for each element.

Half the rooms have runes on them, but Ezekiel doesn’t know what they mean. He says that’s where the enemy will be waiting for us…that after all the damage we’ve done to their underlings, they’ll have assembled where they have the advantage of terrain…and wait. Ready.

Not a comforting thought.

But next…I have to tell what happened next.

We headed down the hall to the last room…the very last room. A fancy bedroom, all plush rugs, and colorful wall-hangings (geometric – with all the symbols of the temples). A big bed with silver gargoyle heads stands against one wall, loaded with expensive furs.

According to the others, it was also loaded with two attractive ladies…but I didn’t know anything about them until they started screaming to high heaven. That was just annoying, but then one of them tried to bite Lydia…which is not done. So I shot her, and Ezekiel waved his rusty nail that he’s been carrying around at the second one, and she shut up and stood there, frozen.

Ezekiel had me bring Tressarian in, to see what was magic and what wasn’t, and we noticed an ebony statue of a horned skull on the mantlepiece.

Ez said he would smash it…but Raven and I thought it would have been kinda bad if he smashed that Evil box we found on the floor above, so while we were suggesting he give it a second thought, he went ahead and picked it up.

I…have to write in Lawful Good now.

[written in Lawful Good]

He showed up. Himself. Just…stepped out of nowhere and stood in front of Ezekiel and the rest of us, horns, red skin, and all.

I was wondering how fast I could run backwards, when Ezekiel said something like, “How awkward,” and splashed holy water over his face.

He – the guy – Mr. Eewy – started grinning…and then all his vulnerable areas started glowing with Faery Fire. I don’t know how Mikael pulled it off, but he did…and I guess it made all the difference.

Raven swung his magic rope and snarled Ewy’s arms. He could still move his fingers, though, and when he pointed at Raven, Raven died.

I snatched up the rope and swung Tressarian – but he bounced right off that awful hide. Lydia tried a stinking cloud…Mikael called down his insects. Mr. Eewy shrugged them both off.

I saw Ezekiel raise his mace, the ram’s head glistening with oil, and then — I noticed Him pointing his finger at me.

…I was crumpled on the floor, but still gripping Tressarian, when I opened my eyes. Mr. Eewy was gone, but a big man in platinum armor stood in that spot, a soft hat pulled over his helmet.

“Nice fight, little ones,” he said, and winked at us, and was gone before Ezekiel could say “thank you.”

While Raven and I found our feet, Ezekiel went over and smashed the skull statue.

The others cleaned out the high cleric’s valuables while I tied up the concubine (she still stood frozen in place, and considering what went on, I think she’s just as happy that way). We found five silk robes in the wardrobe – the colors of the four Lesser Temples, and the one Greater Temple – all with the symbol of the horned skull on the back. We talked about ripping the embroidery off to make the robes usable, but I think most of us agreed with me that we’d rather burn them. In the end, we left them. Got enough on our minds.

We did find some things worth taking in the desk. Ezekiel found a scroll he can use, and some papers on recruitment and numbers of their forces. There was also a little book full of names, sorted by the letters A, E, F, and W. According to the dates, each letter provided a name in order…and we noticed that none of the names were people we had met – although some of them used to be clerics in the lesser temples.

Ez and Lydia think it’s a list of sacrifices.

The books on the bookshelf were mostly strategy, self-help, that kind of thing. Lydia took the one called Laws of the Temple…but there was one that Tressarian flagged as magic and Evil — no way are we touching that in the near future! Not after the taste we just got.

Lydia and Heiron couldn’t stop talking about how Ezekiel bashed that ugly customer twice in a row. What with the magic rope pinning him, and Mikael’s faery fire, and the magic oil he got from High Priest Yra, Ezekiel came through when it counted. Among all of us, Ez is the one who really counted, since his mace is basically crafted to hit evil things like “the Old Man.”

Ezekiel smashed the unholy symbol by the door, and let us leave…though we left the woman behind. Not like we have anywhere to put her anyway, and Ez said maybe we want this story getting out.

(If the high priest left that symbol behind, though, maybe he’s not planning to use it…since according to Ezekiel’s assumption, he’s with all the remaining troops in the big room below.)

What a story. Ez and Raven say, after what we just went through, how bad could a couple dozen trolls, twenty or so giants, a pile of bugbears, and a slew of magic-wielding clerics be?

Heiron still looks a little star-struck. I did notice he’s been wearing a pendant of St. Cuthbert lately (I think he got it from one of the trophy rooms above). Maybe it’ll be the edge we need?

Was about to update my will, and then decided there’s no point. No one will find my body, let alone my will. It’s just a few thousand pieces worth of gold and gems and such. Let it go to whoever.

…I notice we were all (except for Wonillon) conscientious about our prayers tonight. I guess dying does that to you. What’s waiting for us tomorrow? Who will be left alive – us, or the armies of chaotic evil?

Tressarian says I need to stop thinking about it, because he is the best of the best, and once I’m done using my bow, he can mop up whatever I didn’t handle. Been talking to Ezekiel?


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….Ezekiel has no fear (or filters)

Ezekiel and Mikael voted to give the scroll of Protection from Undead to High Priest Yra. Those “cleric types” really do stick together. (Mikael said, if Ez heard an “inner voice” suggesting it, he’d best follow it, because “inner voices,” y’know. Raven suggested that Ez just wanted to secure his usefulness…but he might have been pulling Ez’s chain.)

On a more sombre note, while we were gone, Master Bern decided to move to greener pastures or something. They told us at the tower that he felt the sting of being bamboozled by a crystal ball very deeply, so he decided his talents would be better used elsewhere or something.

He also took Spugnoir with him – which I guess means Sp isn’t too much of a “bad guy”? It’s true the cultist assassin didn’t bother to kill him when he/she went through, and the impression at the tower was that he was more incompetent and greedy than scheming. Live and learn, I guess…makes you feel almost sorry for the guy. Not sorry enough to want him in Homlette, though.

There’s a new mage at the tower to replace him. Apparently he never comes down to the tavern or anything like that, but Lydia says his name is Abi Zol Marn. He’s Suloese, too, so maybe they will get along extra well.

Tressarian was talking with us this morning, and pointed out that he protects me from fire when I hold him. Bottom line, we gave my ring of Fire Resistance to Heiron…so now (if we plan ahead) like five or six of us will be protected against fiery things in the future.

It feels like we’re honest-to-goodness growing up, and getting stronger and more effective. If my mother could see me now…

****

We started this raid of the Temple in the alchemist’s room (on the north end of the third basement).

While Lydia and Wonillon loaded up every spell component that she said would be useful, the rest of us took another look at the map we’d drawn…and there’s a sense of magic and EVIL beyond the north wall of every northern room on this floor (because they make Tressarian check every single room.)

We pulled out our map of the second floor, and Ezekiel pointed out there might be stairs leading down to that blocked area – the stairs guarded with those runes we can’t look at.

We threw around a few ideas for how to check out that area (scrying, stone-melding, gaseous form) but in the end I think I convinced them to leave it for a while. After all, if the throne in the front hall “goes down,” maybe it goes into that space? And we’re certainly not ready to face down whatever’s at the bottom of that quite yet.

(I’m kind of worried. Raven nominated Tressarian for party leader, and Tres seems to have taken it to heart. Ezekiel is ignoring this development at the moment, but we shouldn’t let it grow out of control.)

**

Ez decided to check out the “mushroom room” next (it’s on the map the female assassin gave us, but it’s clear by now she left out certain details). We went past the “evil purple room” and up the corridor to the “mushroom room” – which is just that…there are funguses everywhere, faintly glowing, some growing taller than me from the floor, some growing from shelves on the walls.

At first, only Mikael and Ezekiel saw this, since they went first (Mikael had asked Obi-Hai for “control plants”).

The rest of us stayed in the corridor. We heard them talking to somebody, and then:

“Oh no! The mushrooms drove him mad!” said some woman (trouble!) and a female figure in armor slashed Mikael (and as though a sword wound weren’t bad enough, she slapped him, too!).

Ezekiel cried, “I’ll retrain him!” and tossed a nail at him – but Mikael apparently ignored him and sicced his insects on the woman.

Disconcerted as I was, I managed to get an arrow into her (because no one messes with our druid!) and Raven cast faery fire from his ring.

“Be healed,” Ezekiel called, patting the woman’s shoulder – and that’s when we knew for sure that something was wrong, since he wasn’t looking out for his team-mate like he always does.

Simba charged past us and swiped at the woman, who was busy swatting at insects. Mikael and I did some more damage before Raven ran along the wall or something and threw his magic rope around them…

And that’s when the next weirdness struck. Ezekiel got tangled up, all right, but the “woman”…the rope slid around her, slapping nothing but air, and for a moment I thought she had a ring of free action or something, until she turned to flee.

Then, we could see what she really looked like: the bottom half of a lion, with the top half of a naked woman coming out of its neck (I’ll just say I’m glad she was fleeing at the time).

She also split into four, and while Mikael was cracking one of them over the head, the rest of them reached the door at the far end of the room.

“I’ll hold them off,” Ezekiel bellowed, and body-slammed Raven…only he tripped and landed on the floor. Mikael told Cuddles to “hug” Ezekiel, while he and I advanced into the room to make sure the enemies were gone.

With Cuddles taking care of Ezekiel, Raven freed his rope and joined us. By that time, the “woman” was long gone, and we’d never catch up with her – especially weaving our way through all the mushrooms.

Raven spotted some that he says are rare, but totally safe and tasty. He gathered some of them, but I’m not sure I’m that adventurous.

I’m not sure if it’s something Lydia did, or if he just needed time, but Ezekiel finally started talking like himself again. Seems a little grumpy that somebody else got into his head, but other than that he has moved on because that’s what he does.

Lydia says the creature was a “lamyri.” I don’t think Mikael could convince it to be his friend, even with magic.

Rather than chase up and down stairs after it, we decided to hope the insects finished the lamyri off, and returned to the “evil purple room.” Ezekiel cast his “Detect Traps” spell (still getting used to that idea) and had me bring Tressarian around the room while he looked at everything. (Honestly, I’m just a weapons rack some days.)

I guess we spent enough time in there, looking around, that the lights decided to attack. It looked so weird, I wish I could draw it. The light from inside the lamps actually floated out toward us – but they played tricks so that all the shadows from the statues and such didn’t move. I’m just glad we noticed them before they were on us.

Lydia threw bright sparkling bolts from her hand at one of them. Mikael and Sgt. Bearington bashed and tore into two others. The rest of us…not so well. Maybe they weren’t enough like “evil fire”? Tressarian just wasn’t on his game, and only bit them a few times.

You wouldn’t think floating lights could hurt you so bad…or take that much punishment. But the burns on my face and arms taught me different. (Ezekiel patched them up, of course, but the memory is still there.)

Mikael cracked one with his staff and knocked it to the floor. Heiron, also, speared one with an arrow — it flickered and went out. Raven stabbed one with a dagger, and its ethereal body oozed off the blade, lifeless.

The blows weren’t all on one side, though. Mikael’s pets got burned so badly they fled the battle. He had to coax them back so he could heal them.

Well, with the last of the enemy dead or chased away, we focused on the monster statues.

Ezekiel said his magic told him that the scroll tube in front of the beholder probably had a fire trap on it. Wonillon is protected from those things, so he went and tried to disable it. I mean, I assume he didn’t mean for the huge fire-ball to erupt. Everything is fine – except the scroll and case.

The mummy’s bottle wasn’t magical (smelled like acid, so we left it), but the staff it held was…and trapped with a “glyph of warding,” Ez said. He tried to protect himself with “protection from evil,” but I guess it still got him, and his eyes turned white! He staggered around for a bit until Lydia put Keotim’s Ointment on his eyes.

The wight’s urn (we thought it was silver, Wonillon says it’s platinum) had a very loose top. Ez wasn’t sure if it counted as a trap or not, but since Wonillon has the necklace of adaptation, the dust that poured out didn’t bother him. He called it “sneezing and choking” dust, and sprinkled some water to make it die down so the rest of us could come back in.

What else? A couple of the statues had magic jewelry that didn’t try to do anything to us when we took them. The dragon’s box had a load of gems inside, although Tres also says that the box itself is probably magical. Ez assured us the manticor’s crossbow was safe to pick up, so we did…only it has no string. I’ll have to look at it more closely if I get the chance.

Raven says he figured one of the daggers he’s been using has a resevoir of poison in the handle. That’s what happens when you steal evil people’s weapons and use them. He has to decide if he should keep using it without rinsing it out first. (Mikael says Cuddles uses poison…but he’s a snake; you wouldn’t expect him to do anything else.)

It was only early afternoon, but we decided the day had been exciting enough, so we took the stairs to Bel-Sornig’s suite and hunkered in. Ez closed Sgt. Bearington’s wounds, and Mikael changed himself into a raven and back to heal himself.

Gotta keep an eye on Raven that he doesn’t sneak any of those mushrooms into dinner.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….complications + the daily grind

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Everyone got to Homlette safe! We went straight to the tower (as usual) where His Highness could get a new horse.

Master Bern seemed a little grumpy, but Sir Rufus greeted His Highness warmly and sent a servant hustling to get him a fresh horse.

The rest of us were more surprised to see Aliana Glimmersky! She said she “received information” that she needed to be in Homlette… Ezekiel got a knowing look and completely ignored Raven humming a song at him.

Aliana and His Highness left as soon as possible – but first he gave us a medallion and a ring for our efforts. Ezekiel made some kind of speech of well-wishing, but I wasn’t really listening. When the two of them took off down the road, we got an idea of what His Highness could really do on a horse, when he wasn’t letting us try to keep up. (I think Ralashaz is glad to stay with Lydia.)

Sir Rufus made some kind of comment that things were about to get very interesting. I’m very happy for Furiundy and Veluna…and Ezekiel says “Mr. Ewwy” might have something new to think about up north, now…but all the same, we have plenty to focus on down here. Best mind our own station.

Fighting those etins raised some questions in my mind that I want to ask…and also I want to show off that Lurker skin to someone who will actually appreciate the science of it. Must see if Lord Otis has a few free days.

****

Turns out the blacksmith shop had a rush custom order that couldn’t be delayed, so they told me to go run laps or something.

Long story short, I ran into Raven (he was supposed to be running laps, too). We ended up in the north of town, by the chapel of St. Cuthbert, and wouldn’t you know it the rest of the group were at the chapel, too. (Just as well…Raven was making me look like an asthmatic.)

When we walked in the door, we were struck to see –

[written in Lawful Good]

– Master Bern tied up in the side-sanctuary (the consecrated ground) with Canon Turjon and High Priest Eryon Yra standing around looking concerned. Lydia stood in front of everybody holding a crystal ball (the one we got from the evil wizard, I figured out later). Her special magic mirror stood against one wall.

As soon as I showed up, Ezekiel grabbed me and said, “Bring Tressarian! We need to talk to him!”

So I see how I rate.

Once Tres was out, Ez asked him to detect Evil.

Tressarian hummed, and said that nothing was Evil…except THAT THING in the box, and – Lydia.

So – the story I get from the others is, they were all called up here by Canon Turjon and the Priest, because Master Bern came in here during the night and tried to “relieve” the Canon of THAT BOX…but the Canon was actually alert while keeping watch, and so Master Bern ended tied up.

They detected Magic and Evil on him – but of course they had never thought to scan him before, so had no baseline to compare with. So they sent for our group, because we have actually been messing around in the Temple, and might have an idea how this could happen.

So they kicked around the idea that the wizard (Fulroy?) was desperate to recover a certain something to restore his cred with his bosses, and figured the Master was his best bet.

Lydia had Heiron bring her magic mirror, and somehow it told her that the crystal ball was the conduit for whatever happened to Master Bern. So Heiron went and fetched the crystal ball (which didn’t show up as Evil when we were searching the wizard’s hide-out) while Mikael cast Dispel Magic to lift whatever effect was on the Master.

His story is that he thought THAT THING would be safer at the tower, and he wanted to take it there, but Canon Turjon stopped him. He says he had no impression of an Evil influence.

When they asked him what he looked for in the crystal ball (since he did borrow it while we were out of town), he said he looked at the courts of Veluna and the Overking (Rawksus).

So Ezekiel cast Protection from Evil on Lydia, and asked her to retrace the Master’s search history. She said she’d never been to those places personally, but she probably knew enough about them by reputation. Everybody in Mitrik was celebrating the return of the prince (I think he was giving a speech when she peeked in), and the Overking’s Court was fuzzy, but there.

Same as with Master Bern, Lydia didn’t feel any different…but Tressarian doesn’t lie, and he doesn’t play games. So Lydia (rolling her eyes) unloaded her scrolls and potions and waited while Ezekiel read a Dispel Magic over her. (We also finally untied Master Bern.)

So…the long and the short is, we figure the crystal ball is cursed. It doesn’t show up to Tressarian, and Protection from Evil doesn’t guard against it…so our best bet is to not use it until we figure it out better. Not like scrying is a big part of our lives, anyway.

****

[written in Common]

Ezekiel went and got some special oil from High Priest Yra. He says it was Priest Yra’s ordination gift, so he feels very honored that he passed it on to him. He also tried to explain how it works. It’s nice to see him excited, so I let him talk.

Saw Raven fingering the teeny-tiny sack of grain he wears, and he and Ezekiel were talking over one of those sheepskins Ez bought a while back. Wonder what that‘s all about…but until it becomes my business, y’know, I’ve been with these types long enough, I won’t worry about them.

Gotta buy more arrows for tomorrow morning.

****

We need a better system. Or more bags of holding, maybe.

We reached the third basement by means of the stairs in the Air Sanctuary – so we didn’t have to go through the Evil purple room.

From the etin’s room, we headed to explore the north-east door. That hall led us to a room whose floor was covered with alternating red and black tiles. The support pillars were all black, too, and the walls were painted with ghouls, vampires, cultists, and demons – all having disgusting feasts together.

The floor was coated with dust, and a few tables stood around holding crusty, dirty dishes.

Ezekiel tip-toed forward, and splashed holy water in his face before opening the far door.

I couldn’t see anything beyond – except maybe some shadows…only, they weren’t cast by anything, they were just floating there in the air, darkening the space.

He waved his sheep symbol at them – then shoved it into his belt with a grunt so he could swing his mace.

Raven came up to cast faery fire from his ring, and Ez cracked a couple shadows so that they melted like ethereal smoke.

I sent an arrow through one of them – as an experiment – and as I expected, it didn’t even seem to notice. So I focused on guarding the hall and room at our backs with Ezekiel blocked the doorway, and Heiron brought his flame-tongue sword up to help him.

Well, they finally mopped up the enemy…and Ez showed us a little black rod (I think it was ebony) that was covered with symbols for “Mr. Eww.” He said it was for “protection from turning,” and cracked it on the ground.

The “shadows” had clawed him a couple times, which made him feel kinda winded and shaky, so he had a seat at one of the tables and told Tressarian (not me, mind you) to search the room for magic, Evil, and shifting stones.

We found a couple matched sets of gold dishes, but nothing particularly useful. So, once Ez was done with his break, we moved forward, and searched the next room we found.

This room was all covered in black…black velvet hangings on the walls, black cushions on the couches, dull black stone on the floors and walls, black cabinet – everything. It all looked in good condition, so I guess the bugbears weren’t allowed to live here…

Raven found a scroll and a potion in the cabinet (along with plenty of other, useless things) and a box full of black pearl necklaces. But other than that, the room was pretty boring.

The next section of hall was more striking, though. Thirteen skeletons stood along each side, holding pole-arms or missile weapons of some kind. I guess it was some kind of trophy room, since they were posed so nicely – and crossed swords hung on the wall beside some specific shields.

Ezekiel prodded one of the skeletons, just to see if it reacted, but it clattered into pieces like an ordinary dead thing. Tres did find one magic thing – a shield hanging on the wall, painted with the family crest of someone from Veluna. We should be able to return it to them, for closure.

A crowd of “shadows” came up a branch passage, trying to flank them – but they weren’t protected like the last batch, and one look at Ezekiel’s sheep symbol made them all shriek and evaporate like mist.

Ez told us to make a thorough search of the walls, so Tres and I did – and found a secret door. Inside, we found what I guess is an alchemist’s storeroom…shelves and shelves of empty bottles, flasks, and the like – with mounds on the floor of colored candles, chalk, charcoal, and who knows what else. Raven pinched some chalk, but otherwise we don’t really have a need for that stuff. Oh, except for the fuel oil…we use that a fair amount. To burn things.

Ezekiel figured the storeroom-passage connected up with the branch-passage from the skeleton room, so he had us go one way while he headed the other way.

Our passage (south of the skeleton room) led us to a room full of red – rotting red cushions of various hues, a lacquered desk of orange-red, a red cinnabar serving set, and: two huge candelabras of rose gold. We had quite a time squeezing them into the bag of holding. Raven and Heiron said they each weighed as much as I do, but how would they know?

We couldn’t find any secret passages – even Tressarian couldn’t – and Ezekiel couldn’t find a connection on the other side (though according to the map his hallway and our red room share a wall). So maybe they meant to add a door at some point, but never got around to it.

We still had a corridor we hadn’t explored from before — it led to yet another alchemy workshop (this one with fewer body parts scattered around). Glyphs and elemental symbols covered the walls and floors, while beakers, flasks, and such crowded the workbenches.

Wonillon and Lydia helped us search for whatever might be valuable. We found a bunch of platinum, electrum, and gold – not in coins, but powdered or in chunks. We also found a big, heavy pottery flask full of mercury – which Lydia says she can use for some spells. There’s a lot more that might be useful down there, but we didn’t have any more room to carry it out. It’s irritating to spend most of our time hiking back and forth to town, but I’m not sure what the alternative is.

While the others were loading up, I heard something big and heavy coming down the hall. A grating voice said, “Break your bones!”

Heiron got an arrow into the first giant right off (I believe they were hill giants) and then Mikael lit them up with faery fire — I saw three of them, glowing at the edge of my consciousness.

Ezekiel blocked the hall so the giants couldn’t get at us – Raven even snarled a couple of them in his magic rope. With so many advantages, Heiron and I felt like we were shooting fish in a barrel. Guess that’s what teamwork is all about.

We made a detour to pick up the silver cross, lamp, and statue of Fultus from the “shrine” we found last time (at this point, we figured there’s no point trying to pretend nobody found that place). Then even Sgt. Bearington was topped off – no more room anywhere!

The plus side of this is we get to check on our horses every day or so. And also the spring air is refreshing.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….Ezekiel gets better at bashing faces

With planting over, Raven is free to join us again. He says he’s done a lot of thinking about monk stuff while in the fields.

We head back first thing in the morning.

****

On our return, we double-checked the banshee’s room, to make sure we didn’t miss anything (since we were a little preoccupied last time). Tressarian and Wonillon didn’t detect any shifting stones or hidden compartments — so our last move was to have Heiron burn the elf’s body. Maybe she couldn’t try anything anyway, but this way it won’t get eaten or disturbed by something else.

Some trolls tried to sneak up on us from behind, but I nailed one with my first shot. They clawed Raven and Cuddles, but Sgt. Bearington and Heiron tore into them, and Ezekiel is coming in really handy lately (now that he can actually heal people. He gets so excited!).

Lydia suggested that the first etin we killed was afraid of the trolls, so prepared fire since it’s one thing that can keep them down. (Heiron burned out their brains with his flame-sword – but we don’t talk about it in front of Tres.)

The room at the end of that corridor seemed to be a disused dining room (makes sense, with a kitchen at the other end of the hall) – but nothing in it looked interesting. Guess someone else picked it clean before we got there.

From the etin’s home base, the corridor that heads west goes up some stairs (like all the others) and through a door into a room I can only chalk up to Chaotic nonsense.

It’s huge and echoy – the stones are absolutely smooth – with four side-chambers where trolls have been bunking. It sticks in your memory (unlike, say, the totally normal dining room) but I’m not clear what the point of it is.

Fighting the trolls there got our blood pumping, though. Lydia fire-balled them, and while the rest of us were picking them off, Raven ran across the wall and snagged one with his magic rope. He got knocked out for his trouble, but hey, Ezekiel can heal people now! (He also bashed a troll’s head in with his mace, which he was very excited about.)

The side-rooms were kind of confusing. Each one had a key hanging on an iron hook opposite the door, and a five-foot chain hanging from the wall – with one end broken. It didn’t seem that the trolls were chained up, since they weren’t wearing any matching shackles. Maybe they killed whatever was chained up and took the rooms to squat in?

Raven collected all the keys, just in case we find what they unlock.

The last thing in the Echo Chamber is a door to a staircase – which we assume goes all the way to the level above, though we don’t know where it comes out. Maybe we could figure it out by laying the maps on each other, but it would probably be faster and simpler to walk up the stairs.

The north-west corridor from the etin’s room leads to a long corridor with a couple branches – and a door.

When Ez stepped through the door, all we saw was a glimpse of desks – and then Ezekiel yelped as a…”rope” whacked his ankle. While he splashed holy water on his face, Mikael cast faery fire – and we saw a writhing, hideous mass of “twisted ropes” hiding under the desk. I think it’s uglier than the squiddy thing that lived in the latrine!

While Heiron and I shot at it (considering the angle, we did pretty well) the thing grabbed Wonillon with one of its skin-crawling tentacles. He ripped it off his leg, but had to sit down while the rest of us finished it off.

Ezekiel cured Wonillon’s scratches (he’s really grooving on this) – but Wonillon said he mostly felt weak and wobbly. After a little rest, he joined Ezekiel and Lydia, who have gone to search the room.

I’m nervous that we didn’t clear the branching corridors yet, so I’m helping the animals guard the hall…

**

It’s hard to remember the golem study – it all seems kinda inconsequential right now – but I suppose it should be mentioned.

Ez had me bring Tressarian around to check for magical things, but all we found was an ink pot and three scrolls.

Ez and Lydia had found a table inside a magic circle – with something covered in linen. Underneath is what she called a “flesh golem” – but I call it the second ugliest thing I’d seen today.

It had an ogre head and torso, two gargoyle arms, two bear arms, and the legs of a bugbear. I’m starting to understand all the jars around the room – with various body parts and monster organs inside – but it doesn’t make me like them better.

Wonillon found a whole pile of gems inside the “Roper” – so the last thing to do was destroy the golem. Ez bashed its head in…and it shattered bizarrely. Inside was the squishy remains of what I’m sure was a chipmunk brain. Some poor chipmunk gave its life for this abomination!

Evil magicians are so weird.

Lydia packed up any spell components that might be valuable or hard to get, and we headed back to clear the branching corridors.

The second room we came to (first one had nothing but old crates) seemed to be an exhibit room…

It had five crowns like the ones people wear over helms…and cases of heads and skulls and withered hands and even skins…and tattered banners on the walls, and holy symbols for Good deities, and a couple ceremonial maces (including a silver one covered with gems).

Ezekiel stopped in the doorway and kinda waved his holy sheep around, and said “something” was “off” about the room.

We figured he didn’t mean the depressing nature of the room, so we stepped forward cautiously…Wonillon feeling the floor to see if any of it felt strange to him.

Ezekiel stopped before we got too far in, and told me to shoot at a specific part of the ceiling.

I couldn’t see anything except stone ceiling…but shooting blank spots is just like target practice. My arrow lodged – in a way it doesn’t in stone! – something huge, stone-colored, and flat peeled off the ceiling and started flapping toward us.

It made a half-hearted attempt to slap Ezekiel – and then Heiron and I put more arrows into it…Heiron hit it so hard that it staggered backward through the air. (I made the mistake of asking Lydia how they flew. My head still hurts.)

Once it was dead, Wonillon said he’d heard of these things – Lurkers. He says they wrap around you so you can’t use long weapons.

Tres and I checked the room…but there was nothing magical around. Just items of emotional and spiritual significance.

While I was skinning the Lurker, Ezekiel had us shove all the banners, rings, symbols, and everything into the bag of holding…Even if they’re not worth anything, we can turn them over to their orders for decent rest. As for the body parts, the best rest we could give them was to burn them. At least now they won’t end up part of a flesh golem or something.

On our way back down the hall, Ezekiel and Tressarian spotted a secret door in the wall. (I don’t know if my words can do this justice, but I’ll try.)

[written in Lawful Good]

Behind the secret door is a shrine. The walls are draped with white hangings, and there’s a wooden altar, painted white, with an altar cloth with red lettering: “Venerate this Shrine of Good” then run away, because this place is evil.

That immediately got my suspicions up, so we took a closer look around. A silver cross hung on one wall, with a silver statue of Fultus on one side. A shrine of Good inside a Temple of EVIL? Yeah, right.

Tressarian and I had a look around, and he noticed something Evil behind the back wall. Once we knew it was there, it was straight-forward to find the second secret door. Lydia cast Protection from Evil on Ezekiel, and he opened the door.

The room was coated in dust…so no one had been walking there for quite a long time. A skeleton in rags lay by the door…almost as though he had been trying to escape? The whole room just radiated Evil.

While Raven and I held the door (hoping to keep it from closing and trapping us) Ezekiel circled the room (since he was protected for the moment).

Halfway around, he banged his shins on something…it didn’t seem to react to him (so wasn’t alive) but we couldn’t see it at all.

So Mikael came up, and when we got out of the way, cast Dispel Magic.

I wish I could capture the looks on our faces the next few minutes.

The first thing we saw was an iron coffin, with its lid on the floor beside it. The lid of the coffin held a silver cross, and the coffin held…what looked like a full-grown man – with a stake through his chest. When we got closer, we could see the fangs.

Ez found a scroll with a note: “Good people! Use your new strength to seal in the horror of darkness — we who wrote this lacked the power.” The scroll was for strength spells.

Well, that was suspicious, but we know what to do in these situations! Ezekiel went right over, raised his mace, and brought it down with a muffled whack.

There’s usually purple lightening and stuff when Ez deals with undead…but there wasn’t. So he poked the creature – just prodding – and nothing seemed to happen again.

By now we were all on pins and needles. We’ve been lied to before…we’ve run into monsters “under glass” before…but this felt different.

We had Ezekiel poke the skeleton – in case there was some misdirection going on there – but it just crumpled dustily at the touch.

So Ezekiel cleared his throat, pulled out a scroll, and cast something.

When he looked in the coffin, his face turned very red, and he muttered that healing cantrip he’s been using all day, waving his hand over the creature’s face.

Lydia was asking, “What do you see? What do you see?”

Ez found his voice at last and said, “It’s him!” like that would explain.

I thought he meant that guy who starts with “E” that I can never remember, but fortunately Ezekiel clarified that it’s the guy who sounds like “Dremel.”

He talked closely with Lydia for a minute – they figured the figure (who still looked pretty vampire to the rest of us) was under some kind of Stasis spell…and one so strong that Mikael’s Dispel Magic didn’t touch it, or the illusion.

Lydia suggests that the subject wouldn’t be hurt if we moved him from the room, so we called in Heiron to carry him. We also figured we didn’t want anyone seeing us carry him out, so we borrowed one of the drapes from the shrine and wrapped him up.

Ez took the cross and handed it to Lydia – by the time it reached her, it was a royal-looking sword!

Heiron (looking a little nervous about the vampire teeth) carried the subject out the door (Ezekiel coming last to make sure we all made it out).

As soon as we were over the threshold, the subject (I’m sure he’d be mad if he knew he was called that) started shifting and struggling.

I think every one of us jumped – and then we recovered and helped unwrap him and set him on his feet.

He seemed understandably confused (and kinda miffed at being wrapped up), but when Lydia knelt and handed him his sword, something seemed to click in his brain, and he started demanding who we were.

(He didn’t look like a vampire anymore, either. His hair and face were all shades of gold, and his armor and clothes were the colors of Veluna – and Furiundy – and he had the insignia of a Knight of the Hart, too.)

Ezekiel gave him the short version, and Raven suggested in Lawful Good that we should really get out of there (since we might well have triggered a magic alarm by bringing him out).

We finally convinced him to come with us, and Raven tried to make the shrine and secret door look as undisturbed as possible.

We took him up the new stairs – through the Echo Chamber – rather than through the Evil purple room. It brought us out in one of the secret rooms if the Air Sanctuary…so Raven warned him not to spend ten minutes in the pit.

The only thing we spent time doing was hurrying back to the horses. The subject seems nice enough, but you can tell he’s used to just doing things and not asking for advice. We only had him walk in the middle of the group for his protection, but he still looked a little irritated (even though we said “pretty please”).

When we reached the horses, Lydia let him ride her horse, but we still didn’t reach the campsite until well after dark. He was all for moving on, but we politely reminded him that not all of us had just woken up recently, and anyway it would be safer to travel in the day.

Already half-way through the second watch. I’m glad Heiron is on with me, though none of the three of us are much for conversation right now.

I suppose the subject has an idea that there’s somewhere very important he ought to be, and he’s right of course, but even he can’t teleport.

Dear Diary….class specialization

Alert: Contains spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Good news: town has been quiet. We may be stirring up the evil cultists, but so far they’re keeping their attention on us…not on the ordinary folks behind the lines.

Tomorrow we return to the Temple. The prisoners we rescued are already on their way home. One more success story.

****

We started by heading up a passage that slants between the bronze umber-hulk room and the secret door to the prison. Not far along, stairs lead down about thirty feet. As soon as the room opened out, Wonillon charged forward. (Whatever you say about the little guy, he had pluck and enthusiasm…)

Moments later, the rest of us got close enough to see what he was attacking. A giant with two heads stood next to a firepit in the center of the room. It was dark when we arrived, by after Lydia fired her fireball, it started smoldering.

So did the etin’s club – but before he could do any damage with it, Ezekiel bashed one head with his mace, Mikael bit it with insects, and I nailed the second head with an arrow.

Nothing else in the etin’s quarters really interested us – a cask of poor beer, a stinky pile of bedding, and a pot of cold stew that probably had human-ish bits in it – even if it didn’t smell so unappetizing. We’ll have to let Raven know how much we miss his cooking.

The etin’s room must really have been a hub of traffic. Four iron doors led out of the room – two east, two north – plus a passage that headed west and ended in yet another door.

Wonillon and Lydia opened the doors for us…to discover every single one had stairs leading up – like the staircase we’d come down to get there. Someone very thoughtfully built a room with a forty-foot ceiling so giants would have one place they felt comfortable…right at the crossroads of the passages. I assume he was supposed to guard the doors?

Ezekile took Heiron with him and dashed off down a passage, telling the rest of us to “guard this area.” If he took Lydia with him, we’d really be suspicious. (I guess he had a good idea where it led, and wanted to save time?)

While we waited for him, Lydia wondered why the etin had an oil-soaked club, ready for him to use fire on whatever he was fighting. Maybe he wanted to be ready for one of those disgusting slimes that we’re always running into down here? Maybe the Temple should have installed a slime-excluder somewhere…

Well, Ezekiel and Heiron came back and announced that they found another cell of the prison, but both areas are empty now (except maybe for some ogre thigh-bones and such. I will lose no sleep over dead ogres).

Next, Ez picked a door to the north, and we followed it (all of us, this time) through a well-stocked pantry. We’d have plenty of cooking supplies – if we ever stayed in the Temple more than an afternoon. Really, lately it seems like we have picnics in here, and then head back to town for our hot baths and stuff.

We did find a big cask of brandy that someone thought might be worth money (that and a crystal goblet set), so we took it along… Sgt. Bearington wears it well.

We continued down the corridor to another of the ugly fountains – with a room opposite.

And here’s where it gets…personal.

Ezekiel went first, and Wonillon went with him (he sure wasn’t one to hang back, that gnome). All I could see through the door was surprisingly vivid carpet, and a dead body…an elf lady, from the look of things, though when Ez picked up her hand you could see the skin was barely keeping the bones together. She’d been dead for ages…still with a dagger in her back.

Then – screaming. I don’t know where the screaming was coming from, or who was doing it, and Mikael at least is nice enough not to talk about it.

I just know I pulled myself together and found myself running down the passage back the way we’d come. Panting a little, I came back – holding Tressarian because he made me feel better.

Lydia was crowded by the door with Mikael, wiggling her fingers like she was thinking about something, but I stayed out in the hallway and kept watch with Heiron. He didn’t ask where I went, and I felt better just keeping watch with him and Tressarian.

All we could hear from inside the room was Ezekiel grunting, and sometimes bellowing, “Give me strength,” and things like that.

Finally, he said “Mercy is rest” or something, there was one more angry scream, and then Lydia seemed to think it was safe.

Mikael dragged Wonillon out of the room and chanted his healing spell…but Wonillon didn’t seem any different. There wasn’t a mark on him, but he was white and stiff and staring.

Ez called me to the door so Tres could tell us if anything was magical (I didn’t like going too far into the room). The dead body was clutching a stone carved with runes that’s magical, and as far as Lydia can tell, it’s something about avoiding poison (a “periapt” she says). So, naturally, we said Ezekiel should hold on to it.

Besides some fancy jewelry and rich clothes, there wasn’t much left of interest. Mikael found a book of elven poetry, but if I’m understanding right there was too much questionable symbolism with leaves and not enough actual trees for his tastes.

The paintings on the walls were certainly “questionable” – and the cabinet in the corner had displays of various mummified body parts (human and animal!). Ez says there’s no question the elf was part of the Temple hierarchy before her death, and he and Lydia have a theory that she was in the way of the wizard’s advancement, so he had his personal assassin take care of her.

Lydia did find a scroll of magic user spells underneath the body…which reinforces the idea that she wasn’t killed for her stuff.

It gets me thinking, though. Just like those mummified parts in glass cases…the jackal-weres with their rock and their fake sunlight…the badger-stags with their magical breeze and their rocky, cave-y habitat. And now, a posh elvish lady, secure in her Evil ways and fond of her indulgent lifestyle – betrayed and literally stabbed in the back…only for her spirit to cling bitterly on and attack anyone who dares invade her chamber.

Ezekiel calls the thing he defeated a “banshee”…and if I’m remembering my spooky camp stories right, this room is like a textbook environment for a banshee. Almost like…a banshee in a glass case.

The half-orc assassin called the purple room of statues a “trophy room.” What about these other places? Is this the Evil Queen’s idea of a hobby?

(Speaking of the assassin…it’s plain there were some areas on this level that “slipped her mind” or something.)

Heiron secured Wonillon’s body onto Sgt. Bearington, and we prepared to return – only to have etin number two confront us in the hallway.

I was still holding Tressarian, so it took longer to kill it (I’m not as fast with a sword), but Lydia kept it pinned down with a stinking cloud, and Heiron helped with arrows.

But it felt very good to cut something solid…something I understood…and to feel like I could contribute usefully.

After that, it was smooth sailing – no slimy color monsters this time! – and we should reach Homlette by tomorrow. If we’re quick enough, hopefully Cleric What’s-His-Name of Rau, who’s staying at the tower, can help Wonillon.

It’s that, or try to find his next-of-kin to send his body and stuff to. It could be a pretty bulky parcel…

****

Wonillon feeling fit as a fiddle again (except that he’s been hungry all day). He admitted to me that he’s had some nightmares about that pale glowing spirit of the vengeful elf – but insists it’ll take more than that to keep a gnome down.

(He also said he didn’t blame me for running away screaming like a little girl…gotta find out who’s been talking…)

……

[written in Lawful Good]

The council asked us to join them at the for a meeting. They’ve been studying the box that Tressarian identified as Evil, and wanted to show us the latest development.

They had it in th on holy ground, protected. Heiron volunteered to open it, though it clearly made him nervous, and inside…

A human skull, with no lower jar – all solid gold. Four empty sockets in it.

Made my skin go all over goosebumps just looking at it – and from their faces, I think Mikael, Ezekiel, and Raven felt the same.

Then suddenly Ez started dancing up and down — he says it’s the gold key, and now we just need the four boxes. (I didn’t know what he was talking about until I dug through my old notes at the bottom of my pack.)

Cleric Elyan thought if someone held it, they might get power…so Ez made Lydia go investigate.

She says the thing let her detect lies (although it got a bit confused over “Ezekiel has a girlfriend”), know people’s alignment, or cause poison…and also (not sure how she knew this, but we trust her word) it makes the Great Throne “go down.”

So that’s our key to the next level, after we’ve finished with all the stairs…and I’m beginning to have an idea where the boxes of the four compass-points might tie in…but we have a lot to do before we get there.

And I’m much more confused by these questions:

Why did the Wizard Falrinth leave this box behind? If it really is so crucial to them, why abandon it?

Maybe he didn’t know what it was? Maybe he didn’t have time, while he was fleeing us (though it seems like we gave him plenty of time)?

Perhaps he knew what it was, but hadn’t told his superiors, because he wanted all the credit for putting it together? If that’s the case, he must be kicking himself pretty hard right now. (And if his superiors tasked him with taking care of it…boy, they’re going to be super mad at him right now. Under this circumstance, he might have just headed for the hills, and isn’t even in the Temple anymore.)

Maybe – he assumed none of us could carry it out?!

After all, only Heiron and Lydia could even force themselves to touch it.

I don’t like this possibility, because it means the wizard might actually know what this ugly paperweight is…which means their team now knows that we have it.

And they likely have a good idea where we’re hiding it.

Well, we just have to trust our allies to watch their own backs, while we keep needling away at the enemies’ stronghold, and trying to keep their attention.

[written in Common]

Maybe suggest to Father Elyan that he keep Raise Dead handy…? At least for the next few weeks?

Maybe we should set up a tab – for Ezekiel? (Of course for Ezekiel! Not like the rest of us ever die…)


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….the bug-man and the badger-stags

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Starday, 15 Planting

Before calling it a day, Ezekiel said we should check out the room where “the queen’s pet” was supposed to live – still going off the map that assassin gave us. So we headed there (opposite the passage is a fountain on the wall…ugly stone faces vomiting water into the basins. I for one won’t be drinking any.)

Very curious set-up in the “pet’s” room. After the turn of the hall, the floor abruptly drops probably sixteen feet – except for a narrow ledge that runs around the entire room; Raven could probably move on it, but anyone else would probably fall. The whole lower part of the room – walls and floor – is coated with bronze. There’s also a grill or ladder of some kind attached to the ceiling, with a chain hanging from the end into the room. Bone fragments and other litter was scattered sparsely on the floor, and the whole place gave me a decidedly creepy feeling.

Mikael turned himself into a bat (because he can do that, you know!) and flew out into the room to check things out (we figured he could get away from anything dangerous…or he’d be so small whatever was down there couldn’t bother him).

He made a pass of the room beyond (huge and octagonal), then returned and told us (once he was back in human form) about two little side rooms to the north and south. In one of those rooms, he described seeing a “bug-like man” with big pincher arms. Lydia said it sounded like an “umber-hulk,” which are supposed to live in the Underdark or something, and sound like bad news (tunneling through walls to jump you from behind, that kind of thing).

Ezekiel decided we should kill it now, before it was used in the Evil army or something, and we figured that if we made noise it might come out and our ranged weapons could take it out. So we banged on the grill and made noises like helpless food offerings, and Mikael even banged his staff against the bronze coating of the walls, but it was no use.

Heiron volunteered to climb the ladder-grill-thing, so while Ez and Wonillon and the pets guarded the corridor, he grabbed the rungs and started working his way toward the end with the chain.

When he was maybe half-way along – out over the drop into the rest of the room – the ladder started shifting at an angle…his weight was pulling it down so that it levered down on a hinge above our heads. That made it definitely look like a way to climb in and out of the pit (you could grab the chain and pull the ladder down) but we decided maybe he shouldn’t be the one doing that, so he climbed back.

Then Ezekiel got one of his “noble sacrifice” fits that he gets, and had Lydia cast Protection from Evil on him…and then he had us lower him into pit on a rope of climbing (I put our second one on my belt, and maybe that will be a good place to keep it for a while, so it’s handier in case we need it quick).

As soon as his armored feet clanged onto the bronze floor, we heard the creature charge.

It’s just as weird as Mikael described it. Heiron and I each got a shot into it before Lydia launched her fireball. It stared at Ezekiel and kind of flailed at him – but before it could do any real damage, he clocked it with his mace and felled it to the ground.

It all seemed rather anti-climactic…but that’s how these things go sometimes. Heiron and I climbed down the rope – he to search for treasure, me to skin the beastie.

[sketch of umber-hulk; diagram of hide attachments]

Lydia chewed me out that I ruined its eyes (it had four of them) but no one told me they were good for anything, and I think I made a pretty neat job of skinning an insectoid head if I do say so myself.

Oh, right – Heiron and Wonillon searched the siderooms. One of them was clearly the bathroom, and full of stinky remains of adventurers. Mikael sent Corby down to help Wonillon “find shiny!” so while the two of them were busy, Heiron dug through the umber-hulk’s bedroom (the “bed”/nest was a mound of cloth, skins, furs, and the like…and it took a while to figure out if anything down there was worthwhile).

I had just gone to help him when I heard a commotion of some kind upstairs. I scrambled up the rope to find the others in pitched battle with some trolls.

Lydia fried one, and Sergeant Bearington bit the head off another. I lined up a shot – but the string slipped, and if Ezekiel hadn’t ducked at just that moment… Well, anyway, he did duck, and the arrow got the last troll through the throat – knocking him back into the ugly fountain on the wall.

Heiron joined us and stabbed the troll bodies with his flametongue sword until they were ash.

Wonillon joined us – wearing new boots just his size! – and after the healers had patched up the wounded, we voted to spend the night in Cleric Kelno’s quarters (I didn’t like the idea of using the wizard’s room; he’s still around here somewhere, after all!).

Sounds like Cuddles took the worst of the troll attacks. He’s all back together again, thanks to Ezekiel, but I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. It’s not like I was even there at the time – and if he’s thinking of someone easy to swallow, that would be Wonillon! Note to self: save Cuddles a bugbear or something next time I see one.

****

Back to town again. Can’t say the day was exactly satisfactory.

We got up early, and continued exploring past the umber-hulk room. The east end of the corridor leads into a large room with a domed roof, and huge boulders stuck here and there. Like the magic-sunlight room, I think it’s supposed to be like a natural climate somewhere in the world…a cold, damp wind blows through (obviously it could only come from magical means), and the walls are designed to look like “natural” rocks and cave formations.

As we approached the doorway, we heard what sounded like a woman’s voice saying, “Oh, darling!”

If that wasn’t bad enough, a man answered her something like, “Sweetheart, you fill me with passion!”

This being in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Where most of the wall art doesn’t deserve the name. We all knew we were heading for something bad – but Ezekiel and Wonillon didn’t hesitate, and charged ahead to find out what it was.

Next thing we knew, something attacked…but even after killing two of the things, we’re still not sure what they are. I’m calling them lion-badger-stags…Heiron calls them “ugly as sin.” Were they the ones speaking with human voices, or was that a different magic nonsense? No one knows – although Ezekiel and Lydia had a big long discussion about it.

Tressarian and I poked around for magical items, and we found a dead dwarf adventurer. It feels odd to plunder his gear like this, but we’re not really equipped to give him proper burial. We also spotted a magical axe down a crack in the floor – but our Rope of Climbing was able to grab onto it, and then we pulled it out.

With that settled, we returned to investigate a secret door Ezekiel had noticed on our way in. Wonillon helped him open it, and they entered the little closet room beyond…but it took Lydia and Bacaab (the owl) to help them find the second secret door in the far wall.

Through that…well, I could smell what was past that. Ezekiel just told us it was a prison, and went to check the main door on the far wall.

Filthy straw coated the floor, except for a drain hole in the center, and an assortment of humanoids shared the space with two humans.

Ezekiel fed each of them a ration (he never makes distinctions) and was getting ready to lead everybody out when the humans told us that the bugbear and orc “ate Charlie.”

They weren’t eager to travel with creatures of this kind – and we couldn’t blame them – but as Ezekiel pointed out, our alternatives weren’t good, either. We suggested giving them weapons and letting them fight for their death, but would that really be better?

Wonillon took the orc out of the discussion by knifing him (he told me later it was in exchange for Charlie) and then Ezekiel got the humans out of the room.

Thinking back on it, we could have just left the others there…but I didn’t think of that at the time. And as much as I hate goblins, and their stench gives me nightmares – killing prisoners is bad mojo. Even if they weren’t our prisoners, it’s still the kind of thing that comes back to bite you.

So Wonillon tied up the survivors (a bugbear and two goblins) and we escorted the whole group out of the Temple.

Once on the surface, we helped the humans into our cart, and let the bugbear and his tag-alongs run off into the woods. As Wonillon pointed out, the bugbear won’t starve.

Well, if I run into them again, trying to raid the local villages…I won’t make any distinction.

The humans say they were kidnapped from a village beyond Homlette, and kept as food for a two-headed giant.

I look forward to giving this creep indigestion. Eating people…you just don’t do that.

Speaking of which, too late to find out if the humanoids were kidnapped, also, or just disgraced servants of the Temple. Not that it matters a great deal. Next time, they might not be so lucky.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….we aren’t stupid

Made it to the campsite safely, although we had some excitement leaving the dungeon.

We were passing through all the bugbear/ogre bodies that Lydia burned at the bottom of the stairs, and met something coming down…black, oozing, and spreading from wall to wall across the stairs.

Lydia’s fireball made it bubble a bit, but sure didn’t fry it immediately. Ezekiel traded blows with the thing — it slapped at him without sticking to his armor, and he bashed it down the middle into two moving blobs.

My arrow had only seemed to make it runnier and wider, so I backed up and hunted for a torch in my bag. The thing (or rather, things) were still coming down the stairs toward us, so Wonillon ran forward and dumped a flask of oil across the threshold. Lydia set that on fire, and while the creatures were fizzling and popping in the blaze, Heiron shot an arrow through the fire…it seemed to pop one of the beasties and make it collapse into sticky glaze on the stairs.

Ezekiel (as soon as he could move through the wall of fire) chased the other bubbly mass and smacked it into a huge, hideous stain all over the staircase. Magic armor or not, I don’t think that’ll wash out.

Once back to our horses, Ezekiel started questioning our prisoner. She said her name was Smigmal (half-orc name if I ever heard one) and the magic user’s name was Falrinth. (He’s apparently a proud servant of Lolth, which explains his bedspread and pop-up box. She says his familiar was a “gift” from Lolth.)

The assassin said she and Falrinth were “friends,” that he was her supervisor but that he also appreciated her particular “skill set.”

Then she batted her eyelashes at him, and I went to throw up behind a tree.

When I came back, she was explaining that Falrinth was probably reporting to the brass on the lower levels: Headrak, a cleric of the Old One; a wizard; and another cleric (leaders of the army they’re building down there).

That would all be the Greater Temple the other guy told us about…and they’re raising an army for some reason. The assassin said the communication wasn’t very clear, and after all, she wasn’t really interested in that part.

She said she was in it for the money, and didn’t really care about the religious/political side of things. So she asked what she would get in exchange for answering all our questions so nicely, and pointed out that now that she’d been defeated by us, the Temple people would kill her, so we might as well let her ride off into the sunset.

I was not about to let a crazy dangerous enemy like that walk away – it was our duty to take her to the tower, if nothing else (she’s like all the things that make my skin crawl wrapped up in one package) – but she smiled and batted her eyelashes at me, and I had to go puke again.

When I came back, the others had out-voted me. Mikael said that if she went far, far away from us and stayed on her best behavior, we could let her go – and Lydia pointed out that they’d both been studying her face, so could scry her and find her if we heard of something fishy. And we all know how open and soft Ez is, so he said we could absolutely leave her tied to a tree and both go our separate ways.

After that agreement, he got her to sketch out a map of the dungeon level (seems small by comparison) and asked a few more questions about the set-up down there.

The purple room with the Evil lights is apparently some kind of “trophy” room…the assassin says she thinks the statues really are statues, but also said, “The Mushroom Queen does things her way.”

(Ez reminded us that’s the Demon Girlfriend who’s supposed to be locked up in the Temple. We definitely seem to be reaching the root of things at long last.)

[sketch with labels – big rock; Mushroom Queen’s pet; rock garden; passage that comes out under tower (the tower in the courtyard…assassin said she mostly used that entrance)]

When we were done with our questions, we tied her to a tree and went our way. She’ll get out soon enough, and supposedly head off toward the Wild Coast to seek her fortune. You can’t trust types like that…but I guess we didn’t really have a better option. It’s not going to help me sleep, though. Just the thought makes my bottom rib kinda sore.

****

Wish I could draw Master Bern’s face when he saw us unload some of this stuff…especially that magic mirror. Lydia has rented a room in the tower to store all the spell components and books and stuff we found for her…I wonder if she’ll let him borrow some of it once in a while?

They were not interested in the magic box with the pop-up spider – even as a “neener-neener” to the servants of Lolth – so we’ll probably take it apart to see if the pieces are worth anything separately. Ezekiel is pretty sure what all the potions we got will do, but some of the wands and other things will need time to figure out.

It might take a while…I saw Ezekiel snagged by that cleric of Rau who’s staying at the tower lately – and Lydia said she wants to read the spellbooks we pilfered from Falrinth. Just as well…Heiron came to me with that look in his eye that always ends with us going to the back yard and beating each other up. Some of the things he was asking me, though, he’ll have to ask somebody at the tower. I mean…I understand the question, but I can only keep so many things in my head at once…and does it really make that big a difference how you hold your pinkie while swinging a sword?

Oh, Tressarian says, yes it does matter.

But he can’t tell dog tracks from badger tracks…so there’s that.

****

Had some nice visitors today. Elvish messengers came to the inn, from the Countess Trillahi and Sir Juffer, and gave Ezekiel a super light set of chainmail – real elven work! (I’m not sure it would fit, and it’s not magical…but definitely something for him to save for his kids! Though maybe they meant to give it to Heiron, since they thought he was the party leader at first?)

They also had something for the “young lady who risked her life against a werewolf” – a ring made from real unicorn horn! I’m not sure if it does anything special, but it’s a reminder that Ehlonna is always looking out for us.

Ezekiel got back a few days ago. He hasn’t really said where he went, but he’s got a novice cleric of Rau following him around gushing about the mummies he killed. Apparently he hit them with his mace and didn’t even need Raven holding them still with his rope…so maybe he really has been doing exercises like I suggested. Mikael is likewise back from meeting with Master Geru…though he hasn’t told us if he killed anything while he was gone. “Druid secrets” and all that.

Since we were all together again, Ezekiel explained some of the magical gear we’d found last time. The wands from the closet were, unfortunately, nothing but sticks with a “magic aura” on them (because apparently that’s a thing).

The assassin’s ring, though, is very interesting: we thought maybe it did invisibility, but apparently that’s not all it does. It’s a “ring of spell storage,” meaning a spell-caster can “load” it with spells, and then anyone can use it to cast the spell later on. Right now it’s got several charges of invisibility (as far as we can tell), but Lydia could use it to stock up while she’s in town, and then use extra spells while in the dungeon. Let’s just say Ezekiel is drooling to be a “magic user” just a little bit.

As for those big books Falrinth had on his book-stands…one of them, apparently, if I’m understanding this right, has techniques you can study that will help you to impress people. The way Ez tells it, if you spent enough time poring over this book, and then practicing its advice, you’d gain the skills to improve your leadership influence. Don’t know why he looked so pointedly at me when he said that. Besides, I don’t have time to mess with that nonsense. Heiron’s keeping me plenty busy with our work-out routine.

The other tome is an entirely different animal. Sounds like it’s a trap of some kind, where every word you read makes you dumber. Not sure how that would work, but it’s magic, so it just does. In fact, I have an idea that it’s like those pamphlets Father was so mad about when he found them in Bartholomew’s room.

The other thing kind of interesting from the wizard’s room is called a “wand of a wonder.” Sounds like it’s a Raven-on-a-stick…you cast a charge, and something random happens. No telling what might happen, though, good or bad…so it’s not really something you want to take into a combat situation.

Speaking of Raven, though, he says he’s found an opportunity to help a local family with their planting, and he’s going to be busy with that for a few weeks. We’re sad to lose his help…but he looked so eager, you really can’t argue with him.

I always like this time of year. Even if I’m going to spend it trucking back and forth to an underground hell-hole, at least I know Ehlonna and the other Good powers are still in control of the world, and making things grow again, and maybe we can wipe out this Evil Temple once and for all this time.

****

Back in the dungeon.

That room with the purple light sure is weird, but at least the light didn’t seem to hurt us. According to Tres, each of the monster-statues were staring at or wearing some kind of magic item…like the blue dragon was staring at a chest of gems, or the medusa was wearing a black velvet cloak, or the beholder was staring at a scroll tube (with all its eyes, so that’s most of it).

Anyway, we may be young, but we’re not stupid…we just kept on walking and let those things lie.

The next room was trickier. According to the assassin’s map, there was a big rock in the middle of the room, and she’d told us about the fake sunlight there. Sure enough, as we rounded the turn of the corridor, we saw what seemed to be real sunlight shining down from the ceiling ahead. We also saw the big rock…and on top, and man and a woman chained just out of reach of a pack of frantic jackals. Some foxes and packs of rats also swarmed the floor – but didn’t seem interested in the rock. The jackals were lunging and snapping at the couple, and we could definitely see what looked like bite marks on the two, but the rock was so smooth the jackals were easily kicked off it.

The most worrying thing right away, though, was the four harpies sitting up in alcoves near the ceiling, staring down at the scene. As soon as they saw us, they opened their mouths, and I clapped my hands over my ears. The man and woman also noticed us at once, and cried out for help.

Heiron, not missing a beat, launched an arrow at one of them – at arrow that seemed to bounce off it like I’ve never seen a harpy and arrow interact before. Mikael also leapt into action (figuratively), siccing a cloud of insects on one of the harpies. It certainly didn’t like that, and sat snarling and slashing at the biting bugs swarming it.

Ezekiel did something with his sheep toy and a vial of holy water, while Wonillon and the jackals went at each other (Wonillon did much better, and butchered five of them).

By that time, I’d had the chance to size up the situation. Either everyone else (meaning Wonillon, Ez, and Heiron) was really good at tuning out the harpies, or these harpies weren’t singing as well as previous ones we’ve met. I risked it to let go of my ears, grab my bow, and fire at one of the harpies. We each had the same effect on each other…bouncing off with no harm done.

One of the harpies had come to join the jackals in the attack. Another one had tried to do the same…and face-planted into the floor. I guess this flying thing is tricky.

As I drew Tressarian, I saw Wonillon slump to the floor and start snoring. As I carved my way toward him through a sea of jackals, Mikael whacked a harpy with his rod…it made a strange cracking sound when he hit it.

All this time, the foxes and swarms of rats had been milling around, not even acknowledging our presence. Heiron shot down the last of the jackals and sent an arrow through a fox…an arrow that caught nothing but air as it passed through.

And at this point, the little mysteries that had been building suddenly broke to a new level. The woman cried out, “I will help!”, snapped the chain free, grabbed some things from the top of the rock, and jumped down.

Tres and I beheaded a “harpy” — it fell apart like chunks of rock. This is not how normal harpies behave when they die.

The man jumped off the rock with a sword and swung at one of the “harpies” – but sliced Wonillon instead somehow.

The harpies (except for the one still fighting insects in the alcove) and former prisoners traded blows with us (meaning we all whiffed at each other)… Meanwhile, Mikael chanted something I’ve never heard before, and pointed at the back of the room. The foxes and rats in the back half of the room disappeared – and the “harpy” fighting the insects turned into a gargoyle.

Ezekiel and Heiron took out the woman while Mikael and Wonillon battered a “harpy.” Lydia threw an egg past us, choking our enemies with green cloud — the surviving “harpy” retreated to its perch at the back of the room, while the man staggered out of the cloud, gagging.

After checking that Ez didn’t want dibs on the surviving two “harpies,” Tressarian and I headed over the cloud and pursued them into their alcove perches (the ceiling is really bright, but I could push myself along it with no problems). Tres finished off the wounded one…but when we turned to attack the last one, it was just shaking off the last of Mikael’s insects (that, or the insects finally lost interest — they are only bugs, after all, and they did good work while they lasted). The gargoyle – which didn’t look like a harpy anymore – ducked my swing and flew off down the corridor. Tres and I could never catch it like that, so I let myself back to the floor with a rope of climbing.

When I rejoined the others, the cloud had disappeared, and Mikael was just telling everyone how the man and woman were “jackal-weres.” (The woman’s head had changed into a jackal’s head in the meantime.) Apparently they’re originally jackals, but can turn into human form…and they can create illusions, and make people fall asleep, and command the service of real jackals and stuff. Also they hate humans for some reason, so we would never have gotten along…so the others finished the “man” off.

Ezekiel healed Wonillon (who was pretty mauled, but he and Mikael were the only ones of us who really got hurt) while Mikael searched the bodies. The couple had a longsword, dagger, mace, and a key (though the chains had all disappeared, along with the foxes and rats). Wonillon found a bunch of money under the big rock, along with a scroll and a potion – Ez says the potion looks like “plant control,” but Tres says it’s not magical anymore thanks to Mikael’s “dispel magic.” Mikael says he could ask Obed-Hai for “plant control” anyway, so that’s a good think to keep in mind if we go up against evil fungi (and his spell sure helped clarify some things in the fight – like why the harpies couldn’t sing worth anything. Not like I’m complaining).

The gargoyles didn’t have anything interesting in their perches (yet another hint that they weren’t real harpies), so that finished off that room (except for the general magic “ambiance” Tres can sense in there…which I guess is tied up with the fake sunlight).

The day is young, so we’re deciding whether to advance to where the “Mushroom Queen’s pet” is supposed to hang out.

If it turns out to be an evil mushroom, we may wish Mikael had asked for “Plant Control”…


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….is someone an over-achiever?

Alert: contains spoilers for the adventure “Temple of Elemental Evil”

The hall led south from the guard quarters we had just cleared, until we could see some kind of light up ahead. It’s always hard to tell, since our shields shine so brightly, but this light seemed unnatural and purplish.

We could also see figures in the room with the light…horrible creatures, like a medusa, a fire giant, a beholder, some kind of were-tiger, a mummy, even a blue dragon and a wyvern! As we got closer, they looked very much like statues…but we’ve learned by now not to take chances.

I warned Tressarian that we were trying to be sneaky, and asked him what he could see. He told us the cressets on the walls (full of globby purple coals or something like that) were Evil – but that the statues didn’t “feel” Evil. There was some kind of magic in the room (the medusa’s cloak appeared to be magical) but that’s all he could tell us without actually entering the room. And even Ezekiel was showing caution and staying on the near side of the threshold.

After some discussion, we decided to follow the corridor that turned away from this room…even though we could see more doorways beyond, we weren’t quite up to dealing with mysterious Evil magic like that.

And whatever else, I think we made the right call.

The corridor turned and headed west, ending in a circular room. The ceiling rose up farther than our lights could reach – especially as the light got caught in huge cobwebs that spanned the room. Fortunately, they were so dusty we think they’re abandoned. (Mikael was hoping to add another spider to his collection, but I don’t think he asked for Neutralize Poison today, and we all know how much Ezekiel likes walking into poisonous things.)

The floor was covered in dust and empty husks…but even though I couldn’t find any footprints, Tres spotted a flagstone that lifted up to reveal a trapdoor. Underneath, clean, well-used steps led down into darkness.

Raven checked them for traps, and assured us they only went down about fifteen feet (Wonillon confirmed this). Well, it seemed better than the purple room in any case, so we tip-toed down them.

At the bottom, a narrow passage led to yet another secret door, and when Ezekiel opened that, he took a step backward at the sight of a giant lizard (he told me later it was a basilisk).

I had an arrow ready, so I fired – and nailed the lizard right through the head. It didn’t seem to mind, and glared at us.

Raven held out his magic ring, and the basilisk started shining with faery fire. Ezekiel waved his mace, and a magic light appeared behind the basilisk’s head.

After this, I’m not exactly sure what all happened. Someone had lit a fire in a channel that ran along the wall, and it was lighting up the room beyond as it raced along the wall both toward and away from us.

Ezekiel charged forward, and while I was trying to decide whether to switch to my magic arrows, Raven ran after him.

The fire along the wall ignited the fuel in two cressets – one at either end of its run – and seemed to stop there…which reassured me.

Ezekiel shouted, “It’s just illusion,” so Mikael moved into the room and started poking at the cresset.

(I think he said, “Hello, centipede,” but I’m not sure).

The basilisk glared at Raven, but when nothing bad happened, I was pretty sure the lizard was just for show. I told Lydia and Wonillon that the basilisk “probably” wasn’t dangerous, but I still thought something sketchy was going on. So Lydia cast protection from evil on herself.

Raven ducked into the body of the basilisk and stood with his feet sticking out of its belly, making strange grunting sounds. If it were someone else, I might worry that it had gotten to him, but that’s the kind of thing he’s always doing.

Ezekiel headed east, where the corridor opened up into the main body of the room, and I had just about decided that I probably didn’t need my magic arrows, and I could cautiously follow the others, when something clattered to the floor.

Mikael rushed forward and around the corner, and I followed (hugging the wall) just in time to see him head through an open door (also hugging the wall). He started chanting a spell I’ve heard all too often in this party.

Lydia asked if it was clear, while Raven moved to where he had a vantage point – his glowing marble and his magic rope in hand. There was a second door opposite the open one, and I kept an eye on it so no one could get the drop on Raven…but turns out I was watching the wrong place.

He yelped (he says he didn’t, but I heard him) as a shadowy woman stepped out of thin air and swiped at him with a knife. I was so keyed up that I missed both my shots at her, but then Raven swung his magic rope and she got all wrapped up.

I moved to a better vantage point, and saw Mikael just helping Ezekiel to his feet. It doesn’t take a genius to put bloody daggers and stained flagstones together, and if Ezekiel hadn’t spoken up right then and said we wanted her as a prisoner, Princess Stabby-stab was about to retire

(Tressarian says I shouldn’t talk that way. He says bloodthirstiness isn’t nice, and after all, she’s only an Assassin, not a fire elemental thing. Nobody understands…)

Now that she was fully visible, she looked like an elf, and blinked around her saying, “What happened? Who are you? Where am I?”

That just made me madder, but Wonillon came up and hustled her away to tie her with “normal” ropes, and Ezekiel told me to help him with the southern door.

Tressarian told us it had a spell on it (Lydia thought probably “Hold Portal” or something) and about that time Mikael looked into a crack in the wall and said, “Where’d the centipede go?”

Raven helped him look, since hunting centipedes is not on my short list of skills, and just about then we had another crisis when Wonillon yanked the lady down to eye level and ripped off the top part of her ear. It sounds extreme – but there was no blood or anything…in fact, underneath her skin looked green and half-orcish.

I took Tressarian over by her – and Ezekiel said, “Oh, good – find out what gear she has that’s magical!”

(A short sword, ring, leather armor, and shield.)

By the time we were done disarming her, Lydia told us the door was free, and Ezekiel opened it.

Obviously a bedroom, with a fancy embroidered spider on the bedding (Mikael wants it). A couple parchments hung on the walls, and the shelves and cupboards were crowded with mummified animals (some soaking in jars, some mounted on wires…very creepy. Not what I’d want in my bedroom, that’s for sure).

As soon as he opened the door, Ezekiel rushed to the wall opposite, cheering, “A map of the entire dungeon level!” Next thing we knew, something exploded – and Ezekiel slammed backward into Mikael’s arms. So Mikael cast yet another heal spell to bring Ezekiel back to consciousness.

(It’s nice Mikael seems amused by the back-and-forth, but really Ezekiel, don’t you think you’re taking him for granted? I mean, one of these times he might not be able to bring you back again.)

There’s a symbol on the floor right by the door that I found very suspicious, but even though Tres said it was magical, it hasn’t done anything to us. He also told us that the parchment hanging on the east wall (by another door) was magical – and Lydia suspects it’s a warning to leave the door alone…an explosive warning! (So far we haven’t triggered it.)

When he was done holding Ezekiel’s hand, Mikael went to the corner of the room and pointed out a crack that could potentially lead through the wall into the corridor where we were – and, more to the point, that his centipede could have fit through. It’s definitely sounding like this centipede is a suspicious character (disappearing as soon as the assassin was captured? Suspicious!) and Corby is looking quite disappointed that she hasn’t found it.

Tres also told us that the south wall (behind Ez’s exploding birthday present) was magical, and Lydia deduced that it was some kind of spell that means you can’t go through there for ten minutes. Well, that made it pretty obvious where our centipede-wizard had fled, but we didn’t have any devices for forcing the entrance and following him until the spell was up.

So Ezekiel and I took the time to look over the northern room. This was also a bedroom, though much less fancy than the wizard’s (fitting to a HALF-ORC), and most of the space was crammed with strange and exotic weapons. Various knives, maces with weird animal heads, a man-catcher, and a matched set of throwing knives, among others.

Raven also opened the east door (that the parchment warned us so sternly about) and found a collection of staves in various woods, some bone and ivory rods, and a rack of magical wands…plus a chest. We gathered up the wands and rods (plus some potions) but left the rest for the moment.

The secret door had finally unlocked, and we wanted to chase after the wizard if we could (although we had basically decided we couldn’t catch him today). Wonillon and the animals stayed with the prisoner while the rest of us explored further.

The passage led at last to some kind of magical workshop, with table space for making potions and things, a couple big books on stands, plus boxes and nick-nacks and cabinets and who knows what.

Tres and I sniffed out the magic stuff – and spotted a little iron box that radiated Evil.

It’s clear the wizard took some things (there’s a frog statue that looks like a stand for some other tool) but he left a ton of expensive stuff behind…plus we grabbed his spell reagents, and what Ez and Lydia think are some spell-books – so hopefully that’ll hamstring him a bit.

Maybe the most impressive thing was the back of the cabinet. Tres told us it was magical, so we found a key and unlocked it…to discover a big ol’ mirror built into the back. Not just any mirror, though…a magic mirror that Lydia says can be used for spells and reading thoughts and stuff. Creepy, no? Heiron and I fetched the bedclothes from the wizard’s bed and wrapped the mirror up in a frame to transport it back to town (thank goodness for bags of holding, since it’s super awkward otherwise).

The two tomes on the book-stands were out of the ordinary, too…Lydia says that if you read them, and you’re the right kind of person, your mind and understanding and stuff can become more powerful. But if you’re the wrong kind, it’ll hurt you or make you dumber or something. I’m not sure I get the picture, but I don’t have to.

Ezekiel really, really wanted to bring the Evil box back with us (I’ve had my suspicions) so that the enemy couldn’t use whatever was inside…but he couldn’t even touch it to carry it.

Raven went over to help, but says he “decided” he didn’t want to touch it. He was worried about opening it in town near so many innocents, and Ez was worried about opening it here, on Evil’s home turf.

Someone should have pointed out that neither of them even wanted to get it on their hands, so what were they arguing about?

In the end, we found a sheet and Lydia set it in the middle so we could wrap it up – and then Raven and Mikael each took an end to carry it out.

I don’t know if it’s got a demon or an evil genie or what inside – or maybe it’s just an evil soup-can on the end of a magic string…either way, I’m not getting involved unless something needs killing.

On the way out, Wonillon took his necklace of adaptation into the wand-closet and checked the chest in there…as he suspected, it tripped some kind of acid gas trap, but we had already gotten everything we were likely to want out of there. In fact, there was nothing in the chest except bits of books and papyrus.

To top off the bag of holding, we crammed all the weapons we could fit in there (Mikael says he wants the man-catcher) since at least then the bad guys can’t use them. Don’t know how these things work, but I hope we wrapped the mirror well enough.

The assassin didn’t have anything else in her room except various disguise clothes (like merchants’ and laborers’ clothes), some bottles of what we assume is poison (ew!), and some wires that made Ez go, “Oh!” (but I don’t think he took any).

It feels like we were just back in town, but we have a full load to deposit again. Hopefully Master Bern can get some use out of some of these things (Lydia is clearing her throat at me, but how could she be reading over my shoulder from there? Is she using the mind-reading mirror?).

And I am not letting this special enemy of mine out of my sight. I hope Wonillon keeps a good grip on that rope.


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….level down

At the campsite between Homlette and Nulb again. Woods seem quiet.

This morning, we had breakfast in the old guard quarters – one of the first places we cleared in the Temple’s second basement.

Lydia used some kind of magic to figure out what was on the scroll we found in the coffer from the garbage pit. She hopes she can learn some of them, so she can use them again and again.

All loaded up with our anti-water spells, we headed to the one place we hadn’t really investigated – the northern pool of water.

It opens off the winding corridors in the storage wing, but it made us nervous because you never know what’s going to be in a pool of water (especially in this crazy place).

There’s a four foot wall, with water lapping the edge…in a few places, little trickles leak over and run to drains in the floor at our feet.

Tressarian told us there might be something magical at the far end of the pool…there seemed to be an alcove or something, where the water trickled into the pool.

Mikael told us the water seemed to be “normal” water (not magical or anything) and when Raven dipped his javelin in it, nothing abnormal seemed to happen.

We’d been bitten before, though, so naturally we took all the precautions we could think of. Mikael hit the water with his staff, and got a splash for it.

Ezekiel dropped a lit marble in, and chanted some kind of purify spell on it (I’m still not used to that). The room smelled a little better, but nothing seemed to change. The most helpful thing was that when the marble hit the floor of the pool, we could see that it was way deeper than the floor of the room behind us – and that the stones of the pool were all covered with an algae that seemed pretty slippery (from the action of the marble).

We tried one more investigative technique, before actually touching the water. Tressarian can levitate me, so Ezekiel tied a rope to me and then the two of us (me and T) floated to the ceiling.

Apparently he can only go up and down, so I had to push along the ceiling until we were directly over the magical source. I didn’t see anything except maybe a round lump of algae, which seemed even deeper than the area near the wall.

After Ezekiel pulled me back we decided there was nothing for it:

Wonillon was wearing the Necklace of Adaptation (which means he can breathe in Stinking Cloud, now) so we tied a rope to him, and let him climb over the wall. Sure enough, he dropped below our feet, and we saw him slide down the rocks toward the far end of the pool.

When we felt the tension of him climbing on the rope, we pulled him back, and he showed us what all the fuss was about: a shield. It was a magic shield, none the worse for its time in the water, and seemed lighter than it should be.

Ezekiel almost started drooling, and started drying it off with a light in his eyes.

Well, that was all the excitement in that room. We have plenty of stuff to off-load in town, plus Heiron has that hard-thinking look that means he wants me to show him some new moves.

He’s really keeping me on my toes. Even I can barely hit him these days. Pretty soon, he’s going to have to ask the people at the tower for advice, since he’ll be practicing all the blocks and stances I know about.

****

News in Homlette. The merchants have kited out in the night, apparently suddenly. We theorize that they realized they were being watched.

They left a bunch of their stuff behind – including a little figurine of a black scarab with some kind of symbols on it.

[sketch]

Sir Rufus gave it to Ezekiel, in case it comes in handy in our investigations. Perhaps it’s some kind of token, like a signet ring or proof of membership.

Speaking of rings, Mikael let me keep the Ring of Fire Resistance we found under the fire altar. In exchange, I let him have the Ring of Warmth, since it won’t do anyone any good in a bag.

As for the flametongue sword, we gave it to Heiron. He needs some kind of magic weapon, and it’s much cooler than the ordinary magic broadsword he had. (Even though Tressarian doesn’t like it, and gets catty whenever he catches sight of it. Good thing it can’t talk back, I guess.)

****

Haven’t seen Lydia for a few days, but that’s because she was at the tower “studying.” I’ve been pretty busy with Heiron, but Raven and Mikael showed up today coming from the woods – with a black bear in tow! Mikael says this is his new friend. I hope Corby and Cuddles don’t get jealous…and that the bear doesn’t have to eat too much.

He’s not the only one with new friends. Lydia came back with an owl on her shoulder. She named him Bacaab, and he sure looks bored. Maybe that’s just because it’s day out.

Tomorrow we head back to the Temple. Ezekiel says we’re heading to the Third Basement, and we voted to take the stairs behind Cleric Kelno’s quarters, since those are more likely to be a back-door stairway. (Kelno is the High Priest of Air who didn’t even get a chance to give his backstory.)

****

2nd of Planting

So far so good. Everyone else is counting money right now.

I told Tressarian we wanted to be sneaky, so he wouldn’t start shouting at the wrong moment, and then we headed down the stairs.

At the bottom, we found a triangular room with a big brass gong just opposite the stairs. The remains of a bonfire sat beyond that, and the walls are all covered with paintings of eyes…human-like, animal, weird and triangular – all kinds of eyes, and all angry or furious or terrified or ravenous.

I mean, it’s still horrifying, but at least it’s something new.

Nobody was in sight when we arrived, so we tip-toed around to investigate the doors (four – two on either side of the stairs, and two on the opposite sides of the triangle. There’s also an open passage that leads out on the far side).

Ezekiel picked the one to the north-west, and once we were all in position he threw it open.

The first thing I saw was a giant – I think it must have been a “hill giant.”

He saw us, too, and bellowed, “Slaves, defend your king!” Before he finished, though, he was swatting at a swarm of bugs that really seemed to come out of nowhere.

Well, this was my very first chance at a hill giant, so I pulled off an extra shot – and he toppled over with arrows sticking out of his vital arteries.

Heiron launched his arrows, and I heard the yelping of a wolf or something from just around the corner of the room.

No sooner had we dealt with that, than the other three doors crashed open, and ogres and bugbears swarmed out. It was like my birthday all over again!

But…even birthday boys must share. Lydia staggered back under the blow of an ogre – which must have made her mad, because she threw something at them – and the whole room erupted in flame.

(All right, not the whole room. She kept it on the far side where the enemies were, and even then, one ogre survived.)

Mikael charged a bugbear who was on the wrong side of the room and whacked it. I nailed a couple of them. Raven had the surviving ogre tied up in his magic rope, so that Cuddles could bite it more easily.

Major Bearington got excited when Mikael told him to go get it (it was his first time in battle with us) and charged right over Ezekiel to rip the head off the last standing bugbear.

And just like that, as abruptly as it started, the battle was over.

We explored the rooms, and hurried to search the bugbears for valuables before Bearington ate anything important.

One of the rooms has mosaic scenes of what I can only call “mushroom porn.” Ezekiel was going to explain it to me, until Lydia told him not to corrupt me. I figured out it was depraved, but it really doesn’t do anything for me.

Most of the bugbears were wearing black, which I believe is the color of the “Greater Temple.” The hill giant was wearing a black bearskin, which we shoved into the bag of holding before it could make Bearington nervous.

We also found a cabinet full of food (cheese and wine and such) which Raven used to fill out our rations.

Also lots of money, and gems, and jewelry, plus a potion that we’re not sure what it does yet (Ezekiel and Raven haven’t agreed yet). Two of the rings look kind of like signet rings…but why would bugbears have something like that?

Anyway, not a bad start for first thing in the morning. What will the rest of the floor be like…?


Find the previous entry here.

Dear Diary….somebody up there likes us

Alert: May contain spoilers for the adventure: “The Temple of Elemental Evil”

Well…it’s been a busy day for the map.

We found the room where some bugbears have been staying until recently – but just as we prepared to search it, Ezekiel got that glassy look on his face again and just stood there with a funny smile.

When he snapped out of it, he told us we had to go back to the Air Temple and trace a protection from evil circle around the pit, then dump holy water into it.

You don’t argue with Ezekiel when he’s in these moods, so we hiked all the way back, and Lydia drew the circle with a silver piece. Then we dumped Mikael’s water skin (which happened to be consecrated) into the pit.

I had a silver arrow nocked, just in case – I figured silver might be good for hurting evil things, but in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have.

As soon as Ez dumped the water, thick smoke or steam rolled up in a column from the pit, swirling like the whirlwind that was so dangerous before.

Almost as once, Raven appeared – along with two of those four-armed vulture demons like we’d fought before.

The wind was still messing with the air currents in the room, so Heiron shot most of his arrows into the pit, or into the shaft up above, or into the steps in front of him.

The “vrocks” clawed at Ezekiel and Raven until Mikael killed one, and then Raven was able to roll free and use his magic rope to snare the other one.

The second vrock was so full of arrows I’m surprised it was still standing, but once it was roped we held off to give Ezekiel a chance to bash it with his mace…which he did after…four or five tries. Maybe the air currents were messing with him, too.

The “cleric types” (Mikael and Ezekiel) healed the people who were hurt, and Raven explained what happened to him.

He says he was taken to a “Node of Air” – a windy spire of rock that we think is somewhere between the planes of existence? He met a warrior there in blue armor, who says he was part of a party, but got captured and sacrificed in the pit. He says there are many monsters there – even dragons – and Lydia theorizes that these elemental creatures called grus are being summoned to live in the nodes or something. We assume there are nodes for each of the elements.

Anyway, we aren’t ready to go there quite yet. Raven gave the warrior a bunch of rations and healing potions, but at this point that’s the most we can do to rescue those trapped there.

According to Raven, a monk who “knew his name” and “didn’t have any insignia” that he recognized showed up and gave him a little dark stone…and told him to throw it “when the sky changes.”

Raven thinks the stone is what brought the demons (for Ezekiel to kill – getting that hit did seem to cheer him up)…I wonder if us dumping the holy water is what affected the “sky” in the other place.

Ezekiel does say that he got scolded for being so “careless” with his monk – which I guess teaches us not to be so obsessive about finding all the treasure…

Anyway…good to know someone has our back.

We searched the vrocks – or rather, I asked Tressarian if there was anything interesting, and he said one of them had something magical in his belt-bag. It turned out to be a bronze scimitar – with scabbard – which Mikael has named Kevin (and he says it talks to him, but it must be talking druid because none of the rest of us can hear it).

Other than Raven, that’s all we got from that encounter…and of the silver arrows I shot, all but one had snapped or warped on impact. So, so much for that sissy equipment. I guess it’s better than nothing if you need to fight something resistant to everything else (like a werewolf) but it’s still disappointing.

I have a few magic arrows, of course, but the older I get the less patience I have for digging arrows out of the corpses of my enemies.

Well, with Raven safely back, we continued exploring the northern passages of the complex.

Back in the ogre/bugbear quarters, Tressarian told me that the far wall of the latrine closet could shift. (He’s super useful for spotting things like that, and magical things, but I did suggest to him that he didn’t have to shout, “Who dares?!” every time I draw him…that sometimes, we’re trying to be sneaky. At first I was kind of worried that he might be an Evil sword in disguise, but I think weapons are not really good at being sneaky, and so he pretty much wears his opinions on his sleeve, as it were.)

Ezekiel braved the latrine and opened the secret door, to find a huge garbage heap full of all kinds of nasty stuff beyond. Raven waded forward to examine a bronze-bound coffer (since he says he’s immune to disease!), and stirred up a truly horrifying tentacled thing.

It had a beak, and one eye-stalk, and lashed at Raven and Ezekiel — and to show just how nightmarish it was, it took a fireball from Lydia and was still alive! It shrieked and shriveled up a little bit, but it kept coming with those hard-ridged tentacles of mortifying death.

Heiron nailed it, and once Raven had it tangled in his magic rope, I was able to get the final arrow into it.

Lydia called it an “otyugh”… I just know it will haunt my dreams.

Raven brought the coffer out – and then brought out a gold platter and a platinum bracelet with opals…and a bunch of coins, too.

I’m…really…really glad we rinsed that stuff off before putting it in the bag (there’s a drinking fountain for the bugbears in the next room).

The coffer had a scroll in it…Lydia says there are seven spells she can potentially use, once she has the time to really study it.

Raven confirmed what the map had suggested – that the garbage room continued on and connected with the hallway on the other side. So the rest of us chose discretion, and took the long way around to join him.

[sketch of hallways, quarters, and storerooms, with points of interest]

Found a huge storeroom full of black cloth and garments, meal, fruit, and other cooking supplies. Could feed an army with this stuff – which means we should be set for some time!

It didn’t come free, though. As Raven was exploring, something tried to jump down on him. Fortunately, he was carrying his magic rope in his hand, and wrapped it up before it could even reach the ground.

One ugly beast…grey fur, black tail and face, with red paws and mean fangs. Tressarian said it wasn’t “Evil”-evil, and it wasn’t enough of an animal that Raven could get it to talk…but we decided it wasn’t friendly, so we killed it.

Later, we found a little pile of skulls, and Lydia said these creatures like to collect the skulls of their victims, which I call macabre…even hunters usually mount their deer heads with the skin still on.

We also found a lumber room – so we’ll have plenty of firewood (looks like where the Temple kept their renovation supplies) – and what I’m calling a “trophy room”: a padlocked storeroom with loads of “adventurer” gear, from backpacks and iron spikes, to map-cases and stamped vials of holy water, from lanterns and suits of armor, to rope and mirrors.

There was a silver mirror that I took, since there had also been silver mirrors in the werewolf stash, and if other parties carry them around, maybe they’ll come in handy for something someday. I also took some spikes so I can wedge the door like Wonillon does, and restocked my rope (since we’ve cut off a fair bit for prisoners and such).

What seemed to strike Ezekiel the most was the shields — they seemed to be hanging on display, and included the insignia of a Knight of the Shield, and a Knight of the Heart, and something Ez thinks is from the Great Kingdom (and Lydia seems to agree, although neither of them know specifically).

Tressarian says none of the gear is magical, but we can still take the shields back to be laid to rest with respect…or maybe sent to their orders?

Besides two suits of halfling and dwarf armor, there were probably eight suits of human-sized armor, various makes.

The thought of so many parties like us, who somehow met their end and found themselves killed or sacrificed or something even worse…it makes me feel strange and shaky inside. I mean, we’re learning and growing stronger every day – but we’re not exactly the brightest 

What were those others like, that they failed where we are still alive?

Maybe it’s not about us and them at all. Maybe it’s the God of gods actually taking an interest in mortals for once, and Ehlonna and Obed-Hai and Merikka (wow, we’re heavy on the outdoorsy, aren’t we?) getting special dispensations/recommendations to help us out?

Raven is cooking something special, since it’s Heiron’s birthday (and the first of Growfest). We’re in the guard quarters again, that we cleared out first…although the bodies piled in the alcove are pretty far gone.

It only feels like noon, but so much has been going on, and we’ve used so many of our spells, that we figure we may as well take it easy.

(Part of me wonders if enough of the salamanders are still there to skin them…?)


Find the previous entry here.

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